A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts
Photo by Lipofsky.com
Bascomb at the 2011 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Kickoff: “FIRST is about daring yourself to be exceptional.”
Internationally-acclaimed author Neal Bascomb, whose soon-to-be-released book, THE NEW COOL: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts, offers an in-depth look into the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), particularly through the experience of Team 1717, “D'Penguineers” and their Mentor, Amir Abo-Shaeer. In THE NEW COOL, Bascomb tells the story of “what it means to be immersed in a real-life engineering project, complete with its conflicting constraints, limited budgets, and imminent deadlines."
Unlike many other FRC teams, all 32 members of Team 1717 are high-school seniors. Since its Rookie year in 2006, Team 1717 has won numerous awards, including the Quality Award sponsored by Motorola for the best-made robot at the 2009 and 2010 FIRST Championship. Their lead Mentor, Amir Abo-Shaeer is a physics teacher at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California. He was recently named one of 23 recipients of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship and the first-ever public school teacher to win the award. After becoming a teacher at Dos Pueblos in 2001, Amir created the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA) within the high school, which features a rigorous applied science curriculum across physics, engineering, and mathematics – culminating in the design and construction of an FRC robot and competition as the senior class project.
A former journalist in London and Dublin, and editor at St. Martin’s Press in New York, Bascomb became a full-time writer in 2000 and has since published four books: Higher, Perfect Mile; Red Mutiny, and Hunting Eichmann. Bascomb's books have ranked on a number of bestseller lists, been optioned for film, featured in several documentaries, and translated in over 10 languages. He has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times.
Feedback from early readers of the book:
“Outstanding…THE NEW COOL is a book that will make you feel good about America’s ability to innovate solutions to its most pervasive problems. If you’re sick of hearing about our impending doom, read this, and meet a generation of kids who could change not just the nation but the world. THE NEW COOL is, on its simplest level, the story of a robotics competition—but once you realize the immensity of what’s at stake, you’ll be as nervously anticipatory as the competitors themselves. Neal Bascomb has penned an indelible portrait of a team on a mission that may ultimately be reckoned one of the defining books of the decade.”
—Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST
“THE NEW COOL is a prodigious true story and I loved it! It is heartening to know that there are still dedicated teachers like my Miss Riley and kids like my Rocket Boys who take up the challenge of science beneath the American sky. THE NEW COOL is fast-paced, absorbing, and suspenseful. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know teacher Amir Abo-Shaeer and his hard-working students. Even though their chosen field is robotics, they are all true Rocket Boys and Rocket Girls!”
—Homer H. Hickam, author of the New York Times bestseller Rocket Boys
“While THE NEW COOL takes the reader inside a season, limns a team and coaching staff, and masterfully recounts a gripping competition, this is anything but your conventional sports book. And not simply because the ‘big game’ is…a curious robotics contest. Like the kids he vividly captures, Neal Bascomb has himself performed a masterful bit of engineering here.”
—L. Jon Wertheim, senior writer, Sports Illustrated
EXCERPT:To start reading THE NEW COOL, go to www.scribd.com/doc/45000956/The-New-Cool-by-Neal-Bascomb-Excerpt or scan here: